Mind, Mouth and Page – 57 (Eigner)

[Larry Eigner and Allen Ginsberg at Salem State College, 1973]

Student: What about Larry Eigner?

AG: Pardon me?
Student: Larry Eigner
AG: Yes
Student: The guy with the palsy has the same consideration..
AG: Yeah
Student: …of the line..
AG: Yeah.(I think) I’ve mentioned him before and there are some poems by Eigner in the Don Allen New American Poetry (anthology) if you want to see what his (poetry’s like). Eigner is a fellow in a wheelchair with…
AG: …spastic
Student: No, I think it’s a palsy, a form of palsy…
AG: But total palsy
Student: He can hardly move one hand..
AG: Yeah, He can move one hand. Have you seen him? or seen pictures?
Student: I’ve seen him (a few times)
AG (to Peter Orlovsky): You know him, Peter, don’t you?
Peter Orlovsky: Yeah, we met him that time
AG: So what does he have?
Peter Orlovsky: He had… God, he had.. He’s in a wheelchair constantly, and he keeps moving his hand, and he..
Student: It’s a palsy
Peter Orlovsky: ..and he can’t hold it.
Student: That is called spastic movement (some sort of spastic movement)
AG: Spastic movements, but I’ve forgotten what the illness he had was
Student: Can he speak ok?
AG: No, it takes a little time. It takes a bit of time to do
Peter Orlovsky: He can’t even hold the saliva in his mouth. It keeps foaming out of his mouth.
Student: Is it Parkinson’s?
Peter Orlovsky: Drooling out of his mouth. Something like that I think, yeah.
AG: Okay – Let’s check Larry Eigner out for a second – The poem, scattered on the page, (importantly) typed by him. [Allen displays a random Eigner page] – Can you see some idea of what it looks like? how he has to treat the page? (That’s a big white..
Student: (It almost looks like) it’s random, because he has to throw.. the carriage.. and he can’t decide where
AG: So the typewriter manners, the typewriter arrangement is somewhat decided by his body in relation to the typewriter – what he can do. As well as his perceptions – what he can do from a wheelchair. “A Gone” – [Allen reads Eigner’s poem, “A Gone”] – “The world /under the sky/ clouds/ all winter and summer/ “a snow/ descends and occupies the ground/ stars filled/ air/ with abstracted wings/ on crystalline lines/ and time/ between the stars/ a broken hinge, by/ the garage” – “a broken hinge, by/ the garage” – “a flagpole main street/ five cats yoked – Y-O-K-K-E-D – maybe that’s what he meant? – I don’t know – “the world/ can’t hold really/ too many absolutes” – Very good advice – “the world/ can’t hold really/ too many absolutes”. He’s telling it to you straight, like from the bottom of his body – “the world/ can’t hold”, comma, “really/ too many absolutes” – “but I am shattered/ and another time lost/ while the sea/ slams/ the wind” – He’s living in Massachusetts, by the ocean-side – “while the sea/ slams/ the wind” [Allen continues] – “or lags/ an old woman’s shoe/ flapping/ on the beach/ and the awning was still there”

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